A Latent Profile Analysis of Social Anxiety and Alcohol Use Among College Students

Document Type


Publication Date






The social, normative nature of alcohol use may make college students with social anxiety vulnerable to problematic alcohol use. Yet, social anxiety is typically unrelated to drinking quantity or frequency. One potential explanation is that researchers primarily use a variable-centered approach to examine alcohol use among students with social anxiety, which assumes population homogeneity.


The current study utilized a person-centered approach to identify distinct classes among 674 college students (69.6% female) based on social anxiety characteristics and alcohol use behaviors, and tested how these classes differed in their experience of adverse outcomes.


Latent profile analysis resulted in six distinct classes of students – two classes with low levels of social anxiety and non-problematic drinking behaviors that differed based on frequency of alcohol use, three classes with moderate levels of social anxiety that differed based on quantity, frequency, and extent of problematic drinking behaviors, and one class with high levels of social anxiety and low, frequent problematic drinking behaviors. Two classes – moderate levels of social anxiety and heavy, problematic drinking behaviors or high levels of social anxiety and light, problematic drinking behaviors – appeared to have riskier profiles due to endorsing more social anxiety-specific beliefs about social impressions while drinking and more emotional distress.


Current findings offer clarity surrounding the role of alcohol use in the association between social anxiety and problematic alcohol use. Although preliminary, findings demonstrate that comorbid social anxiety and alcohol use disorder symptoms appear to place students at greater risk for adverse outcomes.

Publication Title

Addictive Behaviors



Find in your library